Why is Team Leadership Important for Small Business?

Team leadership is a term coined by Zaccaro, Rittman, and Marks (2001) representing one of the crucial characteristics of effective team performance. While information on how leaders influence subordinates or how subordinates react to leaders has been greatly researched, influence of the leader on the actual performance of the team is a relatively new domain. Additionally, team leadership in complex systems has been studied extensively, however it is still necessary to understand its role in a small business.


Team Leadership:

Zaccaro argues that leadership relates to team performance in four ways: “cognitive, motivational, affective, and coordination.” More specifically, team leadership includes the ability to provide a functional role, e.g. getting tasks completed and/or managed that wouldn’t typically a team function or recognizing potential problem spots the team may encounter. Team leadership also consists of the discretionary decision-making that the team would not be able to provide. For example, the leader may need final say about budget or team conflicts. This is just a snippet of the major roles of a team leader.


Role of Team Leaders in Small Business:

Small businesses tend to have a flatter structure than more complex or larger organizations. The intern likely knows the owner. Team bonding events typically consist of the entire company rather than just one team within the company. For this reason, the type of organizational structure and relationships that form in a small business require a special type of leader. According to Tannenbaum (1998), team leaders must actively encourage team member participation “during briefings and reviews and not simply state [their] own observations and interpretations of the team’s performance.” Team leadership should not be an exercise in being alone and unafraid, but an opportunity to have another perspective on an issue.

Small and large businesses alike can benefit from understanding the ins and outs of team leadership. In as compact an environment as a small business, using team leadership to its greatest potential is imperative to foster success and effectiveness for teams.




Tannenbaum, S. I., Smith-Jentsch, K. A., & Behson, S. J. (1998). Training team leaders to facilitate team learning and performance. In: J. A. Cannon-Bowers, & E. Salas (Eds.), Making decisions under stress: implications for individual and team training (pp. 247 – 270). Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.


Zaccaro, S., Rittman, A., & Marks, M. (2001). Team leadership. The Leadership Quarterly, 12, 451-483.





About the Author:


Cognitive Performance Group, LLC is a woman-owned small business with offices in Orlando, Florida, and Cleveland, Ohio. It was founded by Dr. Karol G. Ross, Jennifer K. Phillips, and William A. Ross. The three CPG Principals developed the concept for a company to support cognitive performance improvement in industry and government. (more...)

0 Pings & Trackbacks

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.